Melbourne Fashion Week, the annual consumer-facing celebration of Australian design, delivered a dose of sartorial energy this week as fashionable folk descended on several iconic Melbourne locations dressed in their best fits.

The week started on a difficult note when 13 Black models boycotted the event, taking a stand against instances of racism in the Australian fashion industry. The models called out pay discrepancies with their white counterparts, tokenism, and a lack of inclusion in hair and make-up practices.

This year’s shows flipped the traditional runway format on its head, focusing on performance and theatrics. The new Fashion x Theatre hybrid event, held in the gilded Regent Theatre, took viewers on a moving journey of genderless glamour where artists from Moulin Rouge! The Musical and the Australian Boys Choir shared the stage with the models.

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The Ganbu Marra catwalk, featuring 16 First Nations designers, saw garments illuminated by the light of swirling, digital projections at South Wharf’s The Lume. At The Commons Collective Dining Runway, fashion fused with food as guests indulged in high-tea-style bites.

Across the board, designers made bold statements, experimenting with colour, form and fabric. These are the three trends that reigned supreme.

Big puff sleeves
Statement sleeves are not going anywhere – and the more volume the better. Puffs were filled out in all sorts of fabrications from tulle and poplin to chiffon. Labels such as Aisha Ellen Garments, Gail Sorronda, Wackie Ju, Ginger & Smart and Scotch & Soda followed suit – some offering more drama than others. A white square-neck top by Van Der Kooij that featured oversized, ruched shoulders running into sleek, buttoned sleeves was a particular standout, leaning into ’80s flair.

Flowy silks and satins
These materials have proved their timeless appeal season after season, taking pride of place in many collections. At the Le Meridien Pool Deck, Melbourne label Commonry delivered comfortable, two-piece sets alongside flowing maxi dresses. Perth-based artist and designer Clair Helen, Ikuntji Artists and Twiice Boutique also brought the flow, a renaissance of ’70s-style Halston-inspired silhouettes delivering disco glam.

Take a bow
Outfits both on and off the runway were adorned with bows of all shapes and sizes. Following the viral balletcore trend seen on social media, bows were simply everywhere. Whether adorning models’ hair, dotted across bodices or placed behind dresses, the humble ribbon has been elevated. At The Commons, they were even tied around miscellaneous fruits and vegetables – including artichokes and dragon fruit – that were carried as accessories.

With a few more runways taking place until Sunday, there’s still plenty to see to spark some style inspiration. Melbourne Fashion Week runs until October 29. To see the full program and get tickets, head to the MFW website.